Conference presentation

The Law of Storytelling: The Hermeneutics of Relationality in Alexis Wright's The Swan Book

ContributorsBarras, Arnaud
Presented atASAL: Worlds Within, Sydney (Australia), 9-12 July 2014
Publication date2014

Alexis Wright's novel The Swan Book (2013) illustrates the transnational quality of Australian literature. Through the interplay of foreign swan stories told by the European migrant Bella Donna and local country swamp stories embodied in the Aboriginal protagonist Oblivia, Wright questions the origins and nature of Australian literature. I will argue that the novel establishes a hermeneutics of relationality that crystallizes the intersubjective potentiality of our globalized world. In other words, The Swan Book suggests to its readers that Australian literature, from its production to its reception, transgresses national and spatial boundaries. I will demonstrate that the hermeneutics of relationality is realized through a mise en abyme in which non-Australian folk stories underlie Wright's depiction, Oblivia's experience and the reader's interpretation of Australia. The meaning of Australia as a place therefore emerges from an oscillation between foreign and local, as well as extradiegetic and intradiegetic perspectives. This constant hermeneutic movement blurs the boundaries between Australian and non-Australian narratives, as well as between storyteller, character and reader. More importantly, it demands that Wright's literary representation of Australia be understood in relation to the world. Ultimately, the novel shows that the significance of Australian literature resides in the creative interplay of travelling stories.

  • Hermeneutics
  • Transnational
  • Transcultural
  • Globalization
  • Literature
  • Australian
  • Alexis Wright
  • Swan
  • Book
  • Relationality
  • Place
  • Narrative
  • Foreign
  • Local
  • Aboriginal
  • Reader
  • Stories
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - Doc.Mobility
Citation (ISO format)
BARRAS, Arnaud. The Law of Storytelling: The Hermeneutics of Relationality in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book. In: ASAL: Worlds Within. Sydney (Australia). 2014.
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Secondary files (1)
  • PID : unige:39324

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